Saturday, April 16, 2022

Happy, sad, Happy

Spring is in full swing. My focus today was on building comfortable seats in the best locations for experiencing the while water at the Cloister at Three Creeks, and as rest stops along a favorite hiking route.

In the process, I paused to discuss some new spring developments among the community of flora, including the emergence of young shoots of Pokeweed. Pokeweed is poisonous to most mammals, but the young shoots, when boiled two or three times, with changes of water, are a wonderful spring treat that tastes much like asparagus, and the boiled leaves are not too different from spinach.

All other parts of the plant, and in all other times of year, Pokeweed is poisonous. Eating just a few berries, or especially the roots (sometimes mistaken for parsnip or horseradish) can kill, usually from respiratory paralysis.

But the eastern black bears love them. They have evolved immunity, probably simply because they have eaten pokeberries regularly over countless generations back into the dim reaches of time. Last summer, almost exactly eight months ago, I captured a 720HD video of an old gray-muzzle bear eating the pokeberries in the 'Yarrrrrrd' among the tulip-poplar plantation at the Cloister. Watch for that feature in the middle.

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